The inaugural SACCOTech Forum bringing together over 150 Heads of ICT, CIOs, CEOs and top line managers from deposit-taking SACCOs, took place in Nairobi purposely to explore how innovation can strengthen and catalyze the growth of SACCOs in the quest of harnessing socio-economic development in the country.
Speaking during the official opening of the forum, Mr. Ali Ismail, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, said the event was timely since it is lined to help address the slow uptake of technology by the SACCO movement in the country, which he said was lagging behind in this crucial area of development.
“We live at a time when technology is the driving engine behind every sector of the economy, and ICT has taken center-stage in virtually every area of our lives. SACCOs cannot be left behind, and that’s why I’m especially delighted by this initiative,” Mr Ismail said, while affirming the government’s commitment to providing a framework for the uptake of ICT in the country.
He said the SACCO movement in Kenya is now ripe for technology driven efficiencies and innovation. To digitally transform and deploy technologies to meet changing customer demands and transform the customer experience, is an objective that SACCOs must embrace strongly and with the future in mind.
East Africa SaccoTech Forum purposes to explore technology use-cases and discuss ways in which the Sacco Societies can effectively identify, adopt and benefit from the implementation of disruptive technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Analytics, Blockchain and Cloud Computing among others creating efficiencies in Sacco specific core banking services that would establish creative alternative delivery channels, mobile banking, agency banking, security and business continuity.
The summit is timely opportunity for the SACCO industry leaders to share more insights of co-operatives for socio-economic development and the prospect of over US$4 billion.
Mr. Peter Njuguna, Head of Supervision at Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority [SASRA] said the event was timely to help address the inherent gaps that have affected SACCOs for years on end. He said government support and an implementable framework was crucial to helping SACCOs consider technology very seriously and to align their objectives around the use of technology to advance business.
“The framework is there,” Mr. Njuguna said. “But an event of this nature helps to bring the key stakeholders up to speed with the available, functional and implementable policies that would help them become technologically advanced. We must ensure technology is part and parcel of business for SACCOs. In this era and time, there can be no two ways about it.”
The organizers of the event, CIO East Africa, have developed a reputation for hosting ICT related events in Kenya, including the CIO 100, which has become an iconic event in the East African ICT sector.
CIO East Africa is keen to sustain the event beyond its inaugural edition, and there are plans to bring in more partners and benefactors to help the event grow into a bigger entity in the future.
“This is just the beginning,” said Laura Chite, CEO – CIO East Africa. “We are delighted to host this event for the first time, and to have as many as over 150 senior officers in the tech world, attending the forum. We know it will need a lot more effort, but we are prepared to make this a common fixture for the SACCOs and the tech world at large.”
She said the event organizers have already laid down key strategies to ensure the event will be successful in the first edition, and that the same will give birth to more editions in the coming years.